2 Corinthians 13 – Grace, Restoration

2 Corinthians 13:5 – Test yourself, Paul says. Too often we are too busy testing others rather than ourselves (although in verse 6 he implies that they would evaluate Paul himself). But look what he says as well – “Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” I think he’s reminding them again that even though their sin is resent in themselves as the examine, they must not forget that Christ is in them. But even more, as they see who they are, they are to remember to whom they belong. Is what they see worthy of what they have been given? So it’s both a reminder to take heart because Christ in in them and to be sober, contrite and repentant, because Christ is in them.
2 Corinthians 13:6-7 – More important to Paul than if they believe that he has ‘not failed the test’ is that they would be righteous even if they believe he to have failed. He’s more concerned about their hearts than his reputation. The implication is that he desires them to show mercy to the sinner instead of judgment, but perhaps he’s felt more the opposite. And it’s not the sting of the judgment that grieves him, it’s that they are not yet what Christ would make them to be.
2 Corinthians 13:11 – Do we often ‘aim for restoration’? Not nearly often enough. Rather, mostly we settle for peaceful division or at worst we target and fire in judgment.

2 Corinthians 12 – Weaknesses

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 – Third heaven? There are three?! Wait, Paul, what does this mean?!? Sigh.
2Corinthians 12:10 – I don’t like weaknesses. I want them to be eliminated, to be reversed into strengths. Paul, though, rejoices in them, because it gives room for Christ to work. They allow – no, force – him out of the way to let Jesus work. They provide Christ a place to reveal His glory.
That is, if we don’t let them stop us. I too often let my weaknesses prevent me from pushing forward on working for Christ. i stop at the end of my abilities, as if working for the Lord relied on me. I need to get my eyes off my weaknesses, off of me, an onto Him.
2 Corinthians 12:14-15 – ” … for I seek not what is yours but you.” I’m made to think of so many TV ministries (and others) that each time they’re on are telling you that they need your money to keep going. Certainly, a ministry takes resources, but compare their incessant pleadings with what Paul says here. He refuses to burden them, he’d rather make his own way. His heart is for them and them alone, and resources will not stand in the way.

Maverick Flying Car

We’re supposed to have flying cars by now, right? Well, now we do.
The Maverick is a car that flies. Because most flying car concepts to date have flown, but would not really drive, to demonstrate it’s car abilities they drove it from Florida to Oshkosh Wisconsin for the big air show there. It doesn’t fly very vast (only about 40 MPH), but it will take off and land in a space as small as a football field. And, it hits 0-60 in under 4 seconds and gets about 25-30 MPG on the highway.
The best part is the motivation for building it. Profit? Love of flying? The challenge? Nope. They did it for the Gospel.
The Maverick’s main raison d’etre is to bring Jesus and medical relief to remote areas of the world where regular cars and planes cannot go.
Very cool.

2 Corinthians 10-11 – Paul’s Defense

2 Corinthians 10 – Paul’s defense of his ministry here comes from a confidence in who sent him and what his purpose and motivation was. He doesn’t qualify his defense or try to appease those critical of him, even while he addresses their arguments. He’s simply stating the facts, not trying to make them feel better. He’s more concerned with the truth than pleasing people. I too often have it the other way around.
2 Corinthians 11:2-4 – While he’s clearly talking about himself vs. some other teachers, his concern is not that they are straying from his teaching rather that they are straying from Jesus. He “betrothed [them] to one husband, to present [them] as a pure virgin to Christ”. That’s the mark of a true man of God, concern not that they are straying from the teacher but that they would stray from the Lord.
2 Corinthians 11:16-21 – I wonder what had happened to spark such words? Here he speaks of being ‘too weak’ again, referencing back to 2 Corinthians 10:10. There’s a hint of sarcasm in his words, “Oh, I was too weak to abuse you the way those teachers did, shame on me!” It makes me think of the old ICOC who looked down on those who were ‘weak on sin’. I wonder how many of them looked in and saw not strength, but abuse and harsh treatment in the name of being hard on sin. Not to reopen old wounds, but it was certainly there and we arrogantly. as those from Corinth did, claimed our harshness as holiness.
Yet look at Paul’s hard line here with those men. He was not weak nor easy on them, he called them out in ways that I think many would shy away from for the sake of being ‘nice’ or ‘considerate’.

2 Corinthians 9 – Generosity

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – I’ve heard these verses used many times in many a contribution talk, and they are well suited to that purpose. It’s interesting to me to note the context here, though. Paul isn’t telling them about generous and cheerful giving to inspire them to give. They had already decided to give (see 2 Corinthians 9:1-5), on their own, prior to this letter. Here he’s simply encouraging them to follow through on what they had already decided to do, to make their yes be yes if you will. The comments on generosity and cheerful giving will certainly be helpful to them as they decide how to complete this act of grace, but their purpose was not to prompt giving where there was none planned.
Which makes me thing about what had prompted them to give in the first place? Did Paul tell them to give? No, the clear impression here is the gift was their own idea, born simply out of their concern for those in need. And that concern was not from themselves, as he said in 2 Corinthians 8:9, they saw this sacrifice in Jesus first.
So, it seems to me that any talk about contribution should go back to the gospel. Look at Jesus, who for our sake sacrificed his wealth that we might be brought out of spiritual poverty. Since He has done this for us spiritually, we ought to be quick to do the same physically. There are no shortage of verses that encourage generosity, but they all come back to the gospel. Jesus gave up everything that we might gain everything, giving us an example to follow. Having been blessed in such a way, how can you not be generous?
2 Corinthians 9:12 – The purpose of this giving is not only to supply those in need but to proclaim many thanks to God.
2 Corinthians 9:15 – The gift that Paul is thankful for isn’t the gift that they will give, but the gift to be able to give, the opportunity to provide for others.

The Christmas Letter

2010 Christmas Picture
Many of you got our 2010 Christmas letter. For those of you who did not, here it is.

So, let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

~Inigo Montoya. (The Princess Bride)

Here’s a little peek into our lives this year. ?

  • Jessica is 15; Emily is 13; Audrey is 11. No shortage of drama in our household!
  • Emily had a great time in Washington, DC with her 8th grade class.
  • Jessica will be traveling over winter break to sunny Tampa, FL to the Outback Bowl where her high school band will be performing as part of a mass band performance at half-time.
  • On Feb. 14, as Maria and Doug were buying kitty supplies at the pet store, a Bagle (basset-beagle mix) adopted Maria. Boy, were we surprised! He’s an amazing, loyal 3 yr old doggie and we can’t imagine how we got along without him. His name is Copper and he loves chasing the kitties around the house. They don’t seem to mind.
  • Doug and Maria celebrated 17 years of marriage!
  • Maria decided that she would pursue getting her CPA and is 1/4 of the way there.
  • Audrey continued band into 6th grade and is now considering switching to oboe.
  • We took our first camping trip on our own, and nearly made it the entire trip without rain.
  • After our family hauler of almost 9 years nearly gave up its transmission on the way home from said camping trip, we traded it on a 2010 Saturn Outlook SUV.
  • We lost our 35 ft shade tree in our front yard while on that same camping trip (come to think about it, we’d rather of had the rain).
  • We camped in the Mohican area of OH, the Upper Peninsula of MI and near Springfield IL.
  • We graduated the last of our girls from Elementary school.
  • We survived our first year as High School parents. Jury is still out on year #2.
  • We made it through marching band season #2.
  • Maria became treasurer for the Bradley HS chapter of the Hilliard band boosters and spends more time on it than she thought she would.
  • Emily continues to enjoy choir and was nominated to the district wide 8th grade honor choir.
  • Jessica took her first AP class (US History) as well as honors Biology and Pre-Calculus and is feeling quite challenged by school this year.
  • Jessica took up saxophone and is playing it in the school jazz band.
  • Audrey continues to enjoy art and is interested in helping dad on projects in the garage like repairing camper.

That’s about it for us…from our family to yours…Merry Christmas and a very Blessed New Year!
The Schaefers

2 Corinthians 8 – Abundant Joy

2 Corinthians 8:1 – Poverty + an ‘abundance of Joy’ = generosity. And where do you and an abundance of joy? Only in Jesus. Sure, life can bring joy, but that joy is not abundant, it’s circumstantial. Joy at the wedding day fades as the burdens of life and the challenges of married life weigh down. Joy at the birth of a child fades with the responsibilities of parenting. But the joy in Christ is abundant because he is the antidote to all the things in life that rob us of joy.
1 Corinthians 8:9 – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” The original and ultimate transfer of wealth. 😀

2 Corinthians 7 – Godly Grief, Confrontation

2 Corinthians 7:1 – Notice he doesn’t say “Since God expects us to obey, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” No, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” We strive to cleanse ourselves & to be holy because of what He has already promised us, not be cause He commands us to.
2 Corinthians 7:2-4 – I had to read verse 3 several times to let it sink in. “I do not say this to condemn you.” I naturally take verse 2 as condemnation and criticism. They have failed to open their hearts, shame on them. Repent. But Paul says he is not condemning, rather he is simply calling them higher. Open up.
These days I find that I see condemnation in every criticism, in every less than praising comment. This isn’t a failing of those around me, really, it’s a failing of me.
2 Corinthians 7:9-11 – I like how the ESV uses ‘grief’ here instead of ‘sorrow’ in the NIV. Seems to give a more full picture of what they endured.
I like how it also says that Paul rejoiced they it produced in them indignation, fear, longing, seal and punishment. He was glad it produced punishment, wow.
2 Corinthians 7:12-16 – He challenged the sin, not for the sake of the sinner, nor even for the sake of the victim. No, he did so so that they could see their own earnestness to repent. So, he challenged with the full expectation that they would be alarmed at their sin and their reaction to their alarm would then they would see how much they cared. So for Paul, their repentance was assumed when he challenged.
And in doing so, Titus was encouraged by their faith and hearts. You get this idea that Titus was discouraged because of their sin, but Paul had complete faith in their repentance and told Titus so. And when confronted, they came through and everyone – Paul, Titus and the Corinthians – were buoyed in their faith as a result.
How cool is that?
Think about the implications, thought, for you and me. How often do we confront sin that we see? Not often I bet (if you’re like me anyway). Why is that? We assume that it’ll be hard and that the other party will react negatively. So, it seems a burden, a messy talk to challenge sin, and we avoid it. Paul assumed just the opposite. He assumed that once made aware of their sin (surely they didn’t know or they wouldn’t be doing it), they would respond earnestly to repent. If that’s our mindset, suddenly confronting sin isn’t messy or hard, it’s simply love. We are telling them what they need – and would want – to know.

2 Corinthians 6 – Working With Christ, Yoking

In debating where to pick up my QT journal, I simply decided to pick up where I left off in 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 6:1 – “Working together with him …” Paul viewed his ministry as a partnership with Jesus, he and Jesus were working together to accomplish God’s will. It seems obvious as I type it, but I’ve viewed my ministry, when I’ve thought about it, as my work on God’s behalf. I tend to discount God’s working with me. Frankly, I tend to view God as a passive observer in the world, which is clearly not the case. He is always at work, the Bible says. I need to see my work for Him instead as work with Him to accomplish the good that He wants to see done.
“Come on, Doug,” he says, “Let’s you and I go make a difference.”
The scary thing is how often I say “Not today, maybe tomorrow.”
2 Corinthians 6:1-12 – Paul pleads with them not to receive God’s grace in vain. He then goes on to share how he has done everything he can to give himself to them, but feels that they are withholding themselves from him. So, is he saying that to receive grace without opening ourselves up is to receive it in vain? Is the implication here that there is a way to actually receive God’s grace, yet it does not effect our lives? In other words, a genuine response to the gospel but it doesn’t ‘take’ because of how it was received? I’m not sure what this means, any thoughts?
2 Corinthians 6:14 – The NIV, which was my main translation until the past few years, translates this as “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” while the ESV says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Traditionally, my ICOC tribe, and I suspect other groups as well, have used this passage against marrying non-Christians (by which, at the time, we meant non-ICOC members, of course. :-D), but the word ‘unequal’ in the ESV makes that teaching problematic, in my mind. Would I recommend someone marry a non-Christian? Absolutely not, it’s foolish and the remaining part of the verse, and later verses still have wisdom for such a situation (Particularly verse 15 – “What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?“). But this was taught as an absolute command, no marriage to unbelievers and I think the ESV translation makes that problematic.
Frankly, since this verse is not about marriage, it’s a problematic position anyway. What about business partnerships? What about employment? What about participating on a sports team? I think this in a general warning to being put in a position where you are irrevocably bound to follow the lead (hence ‘unequaly’ in the ESV) of one who cares nothing about Christ and righteousness lest you be put in a position where you are forced do something that would compromise your faith. That can apply to a lot of situations. Put into the context of the rest of the chapter, that seems to make sense.

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